figurative

Thursday Spotlight: Danielle Orchard, Embodying the Feminine

Danielle Orchard in her Greenpoint studio, photo by Ian Hartsoe

Danielle Orchard greets me with a big smile in her Greenpoint studio. We just met two months prior at her solo exhibition, “A Little Louder, Love,” at Jack Hanley Gallery. Danielle and I immediately connect over our shared Midwestern roots, having both spent four idyllic years in Bloomington, Indiana for college. While in her studio, I am drawn to a painting of a woman bathing with her head laid back on the edge of a tub. In some areas, a color change designates a volumetric form, and in another moment, it will depict a flattened shape. The clarity she has in her vision is insurmountable, and echoes in the candor of her paintings.

Orchard’s figures exist in their own reality; they are neither staged nor stumbled upon, yet seek both attention and solitude. She invokes figuration of the past and present. Inspired by how the nude woman has been portrayed throughout Western art history, she uniquely explores the familiar yet overlooked shapes of the female figure. Orchard reveals how a woman’s body flattens in a bathtub while breasts buoy to the surface, how her arms tangle overhead while taking off a shirt, and how her curves contour the ground while laying nude in grass. Repeating tulip and cigarette motifs are reflected in her figures’ pubic and elegant fingers, signaling impermanence, or a momentary recess. Danielle explains to me that those activities we visualize ourselves doing we can biologically benefit from as if we were physically doing them. While viewing her paintings, we are all in some way benefiting from their requiescence.

Painting in Danielle Orchard’s studio, courtesy of Ian Hartsoe

Greenpointers: When were you first exposed to art growing up?

Danielle Orchard: I was born in Michigan City, IN and grew up in Fort Wayne, IN. Both of my brothers and a lot of my family are into skateboarding. I was never a skateboarder, but creativity was always around me. There was always this sense of making art which shaped the community, like building the skate park which was fairly engrossing while I was growing up. I drew as a kid, and remember always asking for art supplies for holidays. Both of my parents are design minded, my dad a really good draftsman and my mom a flower hobbyist. I think once you’re recognized as being talented as a kid, you sort of decide that is the thing you’re going to pursue. I had an art teacher in high school who was really supportive. There was always that sense that art was serious, but not to say that that was never mutable. It has always been subject to various pressures and even taste throughout college and graduate school.

Orchard’s wall of drawings and reference material, courtesy of Ian Hartsoe

GP: In your interview with MaakeMagazine in October 2017, you mentioned you would like your drawings to be standalone pieces. How is that process going?

DO: Not well! I’m always so impatient to get painting. I do keep a pretty steady sketching practice and I also take a lot of written notes. I think it’s interesting when painters take color notes to plan for future paintings. Drawing is so much a part of the way I paint that I feel that the urge is satisfied there. The early stages of my paintings are typically linear. I don’t see much of a division between drawing and painting in my process, so I guess that’s why I’m okay with drawing not being a distinct thing where I show the work independently. I do think a lot about Nicole Eisenman’s decision to stop painting for a year and what that means to fully shift focus to a different medium. In the future it’s something that I’m interested in to turn off oil paint for a while and see what happens.

Girl Drawing Pears, 2017, oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches, courtesy of the artist and Jack Hanley Gallery, New York, NY

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Thursday Spotlight: Louis Fratino, Embracing Tenderness

Louis in his studio. Photo: Ian Hartsoe

Louis Fratino’s Long Island City studio is part of the Artha Project artist residency program. Among the others in the shared studio space, I am quickly drawn to a long wall jeweled with multiple small paintings that hold snapshots of moments shared between Louis and those close to him.  A gentle stretch from an inversion, a simple sip from a cup, two figures nuzzling in bed, the paintings bolster warmth, solidarity, and peacefulness. His works are clearly intimate in both scale and subject. Each supple figure is cradled safely in its tight frame, yielding both tenderness and eroticism. His painting in progress hangs in the center of a paint speckled circle, warmly haloed by the brush strokes of preceding works. There is an intuitive desire to squeeze the juicy feet and bellies of his adoring figures. The dry and waxy rendering of paint invite a closer look into his inventive mark making techniques that create a diverse textural surface.

Greenpointers: When were you first exposed to art as a child?

Louis Fratino: My first experience with art was probably my amazement with various illustrations in children’s books as a kid. I used to hoard books and try to figure out how they could make the character look the same on each page. I made my own versions of books as a kid. We also lived not so far from Washington D.C., so I was able to go to the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art which was incredible. I always really loved drawing and don’t remember having a defining moment of figuring that out. It was just always something that I did. I would go through multiple reams of printer paper in a weekend. Eventually my parents noticed and heard from my teachers that I was very interested in art. I took art classes in high school where we had a very robust program. The art room was in the old gymnasium where six or seven people could be working on easels at one time. I have always made work about relationships and intimacy and love. In high school I was making paintings about my siblings, and when I was in a relationship I started painting the person I was with.

Dolphin Street, 2017, oil and crayon on canvas, 30 x 24 in. Photo: Greenpointers

Louis: I decided I wanted to study painting my freshman year of college. I was trying to entertain the idea of a dual degree in illustration right up until graduation. I made a manuscript for a children’s book and had done some editorial pieces. I decided it wouldn’t be possible to go all the way and do both at the same time. There are tons of artists who make publications and do things outside of painting when they’re older that I want to do, but I think right now it just demands too much to try to build both of those careers. Illustration in a way feels harder to me sometimes because you don’t get to just generate your own material. And maybe that’s why I’m ultimately a painter.

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Thursday Spotlight: Giordanne Salley, The Summer Sun

Giordanne in her Greenpoint studio. Photo: Ian Hartsoe

Giordanne Salley spends a few weeks each summer out of the city. She retreats to the rocky coastlines and glacier-carved forests of our Northeastern-most state. There, she quickly assumes the circadian rhythms of nature, in part, encouraged by a lack of cell phone reception. Swimming, kayaking, and hiking, Salley studies the sun and changing colors of the day. Upon returning to New York she begins painting these summer experiences. Nude figures running freely among raw pebbly beaches, silky waters, and deciduous brush; Giordanne has managed to transport the spirit of the spruce islands to her Greenpoint studio.

Greenpointers: When were you first exposed to art as a child?

Giordanne Salley: I am originally from Southwest Ohio. My parents took us to the Dayton Art Institute on the weekends which had an interesting collection of art for a city of its size. We would picnic in the gardens and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the various exhibits. I remember once looking at a Josef Albers’ red square painting and wondering why it was in a museum. I find it ironic now because I’ve taken color theory classes and really appreciate his work. Being homeschooled until the sixth grade, my parents always encouraged me to take on any form of self-expression I wanted. I was constantly being supplied with paper and drawing tools. I could organize my time differently than kids in school, and was able to spend a lot of time exploring nature. This remains very important to me and my paintings.
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